QUETTA: Wreckage of an army aviation helicopter that went missing in southwestern Pakistan with the top military commander in Balochistan on board was found by search parties on Tuesday in the mountainous terrain of Lasbela district, a senior police official said.
Lt. Gen. Sarfaraz Ali, commander XII Corps, was accompanied by the director general of the Pakistan Coast Guard, Major General Amjad Hanif Satti, and four other crew members, when their helicopter was reported missing. The officers had been monitoring flood relief operations in Lasbela, Balochistan, the military’s media wing said on Monday.
Speaking to Arab News, the deputy superintendent police in Hub, Younus Raza, said the helicopter, which flew out of Uthal and was en route the Faisal Airbase in Karachi, disappeared soon after evening prayers.
After a nightlong search operation, authorities in the southwestern province found the wreckage, he said.
“The army and police search teams have recovered the wreckage from Musa Goth area near the Sassi Punnuh shrine in Lasbela along with two bodies that are yet to be identified,” Raza told Arab News.
“The helicopter has been completely destroyed and the search teams are trying to recover other bodies.”
Raza said search teams had been searching in the rugged mountainous region of Windar near the Sassi Punnuh shrine after receiving reports the missing helicopter was last seen flying low in the area.”
“Due to the dark terrain, the search teams were facing problems, but police teams were also moved toward the mountainous area on motorbikes,” the policeman added.
Pakistan has witnessed torrential rains since the monsoon season began in June, causing flash floods in several parts of the country.
Latest statistics by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) said 434 people were killed in rains across Pakistan since the onset of the monsoon season, with Balochistan worst hit with 149 deaths since mid-June. Four army aviation helicopters have been participating in rescue and relief work after several districts in the province were lashed by monsoon rains and floods.
In a tweet on Tuesday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called the devastation from the latest rains “indescribable.”
“All the institutions of the government have definitely stepped up the rescue and relief work keeping in view the situation in front. We will not sit in peace until the resettlement of the victims is complete,” Sharif said.
“We are working on several fronts to deal with the difficult situation created by the floods. The challenge is indeed huge but our determination to meet this challenge is even stronger.”